Celebrate Arbor Day and Plant a Tree

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Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, although some states — like Nebraska — in the United States observe it on dates that better coincide with the local area’s planting times. Julius Sterling Morton was a passionate tree lover who gave birth to Arbor Day. Planting a tree on Arbor Day in remembrance of or honoring a loved one is a widely observed custom. Discover some fascinating trivia about this day as well as the strength and benefits of trees, which contribute to our health.

All You Must Know About Arbor Day 2024

Arbor Day, a day dedicated to trees and environmental conservation, holds significant importance worldwide. Originating in the United States in the 19th century, this annual observance has since spread globally, highlighting the crucial role trees play in sustaining life on Earth.


Planting trees to celebrate Arbor Day


The name ‘Arbor Day’ comes from the Latin word ‘arbor’, meaning ‘tree’. It was first proposed by J. Sterling Morton, a journalist and nature lover from Nebraska, in 1872. Morton recognized the need for increased awareness of the value of trees in an expanding nation. He advocated for the planting of trees not only for their beauty but also for their environmental benefits.

An excerpt from ‘The Heart of the Tree’ by Henry Cuyler Bunner states:

“What does he plant who plants a tree?
   He plants cool shade and tender rain,
And seed and bud of days to be,
   And years that fade and flush again;
      He plants the glory of the plain;
      He plants the forest’s heritage;
      The harvest of a coming age;
The joy that unborn eyes shall see—
These things he plants who plants a tree.”


The beauty of green trees
Photo: @theslothinstitute


As previously mentioned, Arbor Day is typically celebrated on different dates depending on the country or region. In the United States, it is often observed on the last Friday in April, while other countries may have their own designated dates throughout the year to coincide with optimal tree planting seasons.

The primary objective of Arbor Day is to promote tree planting and conservation efforts. Communities, schools, and environmental organizations often organize tree-planting events, educational programs, and other activities to raise awareness about the importance of trees in our ecosystem.


Giving away seedlings for Arbor Day
 In honor of Arbor Day, the Legacy of Greenery Committee gives away free tree and shrub seedlings
Photo: @oparboretum


Full History of Arbor Day

The first Arbor Day occurred on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska City, Nebraska. It’s estimated that nearly one million trees were planted on this day. By 1885, Arbor Day had become a legal holiday in Nebraska. (The date was changed to April 22 to honor Morton’s birthday, which was also the 22nd of April.) On that day, thousands of Nebraska City citizens turned out for one big party, including 1,000 school-children who formed a parade.

Within twenty years of its creation, the holiday was celebrated in every American state except Delaware, which eventually joined in. Particularly pleasing to Morton was the fact that schools across the country began celebrating Arbor Day by dedicating the trees they planted to special people.

Despite having a busy career and four sons, Morton planted thousands of trees on the homestead he called the Morton ‘ranch’. He planted an apple orchard, as well as peach, plum, and pear trees, plus cottonwoods, evergreens, beeches, and more. He took every opportunity he could to spread the word. He gave speeches and filled his newspaper with agricultural advice, urging Nebraskans to plant trees and try new crops. 

Today, the family home, Arbor Lodge, is a state park in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Over the years, Arbor Lodge grew from a four-room home into a 52-room mansion, complete with a terraced garden, a pine grove, and 65 acres of more than 250 varieties of trees and shrubs. Julius Sterling Morton died at the age of 70 on April 27, 1902, writing just a month earlier that he hoped to plant trees as soon as the weather turned warm. A statue of him stands in the National Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C.

The Importance of Trees for Our Planet

Arbor Day, just as Earth Day, is a holiday that celebrates nature. So here are a few facts about the power of trees and why Arbor Day (as much as the rest of the year), is important to plant more trees and take care of them, as they provide vital oxygen for all humans.


A green pathway of trees
Photo: @iowadnr


  • Trees are good for the planet and for our health! They purify our water and air. They give shade, which keeps our cities cool. Trees have been shown to calm us and lower our stress levels, even on an individual basis.


Rays of sun passing through trees
Photo: @njaudubon


  • Additionally, trees sustain our entire ecosystem and its wildlife. Thousands of pollinators and beneficial insects are drawn to a single oak tree, and mammals, birds, and aquatic animals have habitats thanks to trees. They also give humans agriculture, materials for survival, and potent medicine.


Raccoon resting on a tree
Trees are necessary for animals to rest, take shelter, and live a better life
Photo: @nationalwildlifemagazine


  • Lastly, trees are our greatest ally in the fight against global warming because they are an affordable means of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere right now. Even a single tree planted has an impact.


A full landscape of green trees
Photo: @rainforest_eye


How to Celebrate Arbor Day

Celebrating Arbor Day can take various forms, from tree-planting ceremonies to educational workshops. Schools often incorporate Arbor Day into their curriculum, teaching students about the importance of trees and engaging them in planting activities. Communities may organize tree planting events in parks, neighborhoods, or other public spaces, involving volunteers of all ages.


Kids planting trees on Arbor Day
Kids are part of Arbor Day by planting trees to help the Earth
Photo: @patsys_home


Beyond planting trees, Arbor Day encourages individuals to appreciate and care for existing trees in their communities. Proper tree care, such as watering, pruning, and protecting against pests and diseases, ensures their long-term health and vitality. By nurturing and protecting trees, people can start walking towards a more sustainable future for generations to come. Whether through planting trees, advocating for environmental policies or simply enjoying the beauty of nature, everyone can play a part in preserving our planet’s precious resources.


Planting trees to celebrate Arbor Day
The best way to celebrate Arbor Day is to plant a tree and be a part of a community that is willing to help the Earth, one tree at a time
Photo: @riverfrontrecapture


Do you celebrate Arbor Day? What types of trees do you have in your yard? If not, it’s time to plant a tree in your garden or even visit your favorite park filled with trees for this celebration!

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